NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- My article on Monday suggesting that social media giant Facebook (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report or Sony would buy struggling phone manufacturer Research in Motion (RIMM) was not well received by the company's investors. However, I am beginning to wonder what serious alternatives these investors see that can salvage what little credibility the company has left.
On Monday, the stock closed below $10 -- not a surprise as I predicted It would only a couple of weeks ago in an article titled "
." However, what was a surprise is that it had taken this long.
Having lost its double-digit support, investors are now scrambling for answers to the new most important question, can it hold $5? And will an acquisition occur before it is forced to find out?
The sad part of RIM's story is that we can chronicle these discussions since the stock was trading in the $50s, then, $40s, $30s and yet today when it was just over $10 -- nothing with the company has changed to the point where one can use the words "silver lining" with a straight face.
Sadder still is to see how loyal the RIM faithful are -- even at their own peril. Remarkably, ever since the stock was at much higher levels, they have used the same tired argument that they are still using today:
1. RIM has over $2 billion in cash,
2. RIM has NO debts and
3. RIM has over 78 million subscribers worldwide.
All the while the market continues to say -- so what!
These same investors are quick to forget or blatantly ignore that the company recently reported
from its previous quarter -- one where management said the decline was caused by BlackBerry smartphone shipments falling from 14.1 million in Q3 to 11.1 million in Q4. In other words, both
continue to eat its lunch.
So essentially, not only are consumers speaking with their wallets but investors have also been screaming with their positions, evident by the fact that the stock has also lost almost 72% of its value over the past 12 months. Clearly the company still does not get it and in stubborn fashion has ignored the future of mobile data and disregarded the needs of its consumers.
Disappointingly, its faithful investors continue to blame everyone else except the company's management - who has bet everything on its BB10 OS that appears to already be a huge letdown. So the question is where is the real value in the company at this point? If not an acquisition, what's next? What is left?
The company, by its own admission has no idea what its next good idea is going to be. Remarkably, there are many who now wish to proclaim that the stock has become cheap by virtue of its recent close of $9.66.
Solely from the standpoint of valuation, I remain unimpressed. As noted, we have been down this road before and most recently when Wall Street was quick to proclaim that the stock would not drop below its book value of $20. Well, how has that worked out?
Investors need to understand what exactly is going on with this company and realize that the prudent thing to do is to quit while we're ahead. Sadly, even at $9.66 the stock yet remains expensive from the standpoint of its rapidly diminishing market share not only from Apple's competition, but surprisingly even from
As the stock continues to drop, there will be other potential suitors that get added into the discussions. Names such as
who would relish at the opportunity to really stick it to Apple might eventually see an opportunity that it can't pass up. While there is an incentive to jump at the chance now, some may opt to wait for the bleeding to continue a little longer hoping to get a better bargain. Who can blame them?
Of course there are going to be the usual suspects including
but it would not surprise me if
were to enter the pool.
The fact of the matter is, I just don't see a future for RIM where the scenario does not include an acquisition. The only question is, will it occur before or after the company reaches $5? The market recently realized that the company had no business trading above $10 -- astute investors had come to realize that the company had no business.
The company's one-time dominance is over. Its fall was the result of stubbornness, not wanting to adequately adjust its focus to where it truly belonged, on the consumer. Now that it has come to this realization, it seems consumers have already moved on.
From an investment standpoint, I don't see how anyone can touch RIM at any level. What exactly is it going to win at this point? The only thing that it has left is its name and what it used to represent.
Today, I wonder if that is even worth $5. The company's biggest challenge at this point is to try to stay above $5 for the rest of the year so it can do the right thing and save its investors some grief and sellout to someone that can make better use of its assets.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and MSFT.